Marijuana arrests fall to lowest level since 1996
The Washington Post - By. Christopher Ingraham - 9/26/2016
Arrests for simple marijuana possession in the United States fell to nearly a two-decade low last year, according to new statistics released Monday by the FBI.
The number of arrests for marijuana possession in 2015 -- 574,641 -- is the lowest number since 1996. It represents a 7 percent year-over-year drop, and roughly a 25 percent drop from the peak of close to 800,000 marijuana possession arrests in 2007.
The FBI data suggest that, in aggregate, law enforcement officers are devoting less time to marijuana enforcement relative to other drugs. In 2010, for instance, marijuana sales and possession together accounted for 52 percent of all drug arrests. By 2015, that number had fallen to 43 percent. By contrast, the numbers show police have been making more arrests for cocaine and heroin, and for other non-narcotic drugs.
Still, the marijuana possession arrest rate works out to more than one arrest every minute.
Advocates of drug policy reform have long criticized high rate of marijuana arrests as misplaced criminal justice priorities. The Drug Policy Alliance calls marijuana arrests "the engine driving the U.S. war on drugs" and says that "the huge number of marijuana arrests every year usurps scarce law enforcement, criminal justice and treatment resources at enormous cost to taxpayers."
A widely-cited 2013 ACLU report estimated that the total cost to taxpayers of marijuana possession enforcement in the U.S. was $3.6 billion. It also found that while whites and blacks use marijuana at similar rates, black users were four times more likely than whites to be arrested for it.
The 2016 Boston Freedom Rally Prepares For Question 4
ReLeaf Media - By. Mike Perry - 09/14/2016
During the third weekend of September, the 17th and 18th this year, the 27th annual Boston Freedom Rally will be taking place once again on the Boston Common. This year, MassCann will be putting on the most important and historic Freedom Rally to date. The Rally’s main focus this year is getting out the information and knowledge Massachusetts voters need to be able to answer Question 4 on the November 4th ballot-wether or not to tax and regulate cannabis within the state of Massachusetts.
The Boston Freedom Rally, also known as “Hempfest”, is the second largest cannabis activism gathering in the country and always gives it’s participants a fantastic, informative and safe weekend filled with positive uplifting vibes and thousands of likeminded people joining together to end cannabis prohibition.
Bill Downing of MassCann and organizer of the Freedom Rally is very excited about Question 4 being on the ballot and says attendees can expect “The biggest and best Freedom Rally ever” and told us to expect “beautiful music, beautiful people, beautiful smiles, beautiful glass, useful info, contacts, dancing, relaxing, eating and more.”
There will be two stages of music, speakers, and activism as well as a cannabis education village, vendors, and delicious food Saturday 12-8p & Sunday 12-6p.
The education village will be a main resource for all voters and legislators to be educated on eight important areas of concern so they can be properly informed for election day. It is with high hopes these discussions will teach something new to their visitors and sway them to be in favor of taxing and regulating cannabis in Massachusetts.
The eight pop up tents will each be discussing the important issues titled “Prohibition is Destroying Our Communities,” “Activism Helps,” “Repair the Community,” “Support Groups,” “Cannabis is Human Kinds Manhattan Project,” “Cannabis is an Essential Health Supplement,” “Recipes on How to Grow, Make, and Take,” “Your Own Medicine,” and “Spirituality, Peace, and Love.” There will also be a tent for panel discussions that will also be streamed live on masscann.com.
The music this year is enough alone to draw an incredible amount of people down to the Boston Common. Both stages will have dozens of artists in various genres performing the length of the Rally. There will be a good amount of reggae performances this year, as well as a “Rave on the Common” with DJ Julee + DJ Leah headlining on Saturday and Hip Hop legends Method Man and Redman will be the headliners Sunday. The lineup has something for everyone at every point of gathering.
One of the premier sponsors of the event this year is Greenleaf Magazine. We have Real One flying in from California. He is one of the top hip hop artists supporting cannabis,” said Brett Cogill of Greenleaf Magazine. “We are also very excited for the 65k people that will come out to support our cause. Boston George from the famous movie “BLOW” will be at our booth signing autographs as well.”
There will be countless vendors with booths all over the common promoting, selling, and informing visitors of their place in the culture and cannabis industry. There are always newcomers to learn about and old favorites to revisit. You’ll be sure to leave with plenty of new friends, contacts, and a great state of mind from being around so many likeminded people.
Scott Bettano, founder of Social High, is a major sponsor of the Freedom Rally this year and expects it to be huge and very important. “We are most excited about the anticipated turn out and energy of the crowd. We decided to get involved with big sponsorship this year for a few reasons. First off, Boston is our home and always will be. We very proud to be part of the Cannabis Culture in Massachusetts and the associated start-up community. That being said, this is an important time for not only the State of Massachusetts, but the Cannabis movement as a whole. We wanted to do our part in helping bring out the crowd to the Freedom Rally and educate as many people as possible on the benefits of Voting Yes on Question 4.”
Scott remarks, “We think it's important people know these benefits and understand their vote has the ability to foster positive change come November. We are very grateful to MassCann for allowing us to get involved to make that happen. With the board behind us and the team of Co-sponsors in Boston Smoke Shop, Xperience Creative and The Hardy Consultants, this year promises to be possibly the biggest rally to date!”
You can download Social High on Android or IOS to find a smoke buddy for this year’s Rally!
Bill Downing also gave us some useful tips for everyone heading into the city.
”Arrive stoned. If it's sunny, bring sunglasses and sun screen. It's always nice to have a blanket, but many just sit on the grass. The vending area gets crammed in the late afternoon. Get there early, if you want a more relaxed shopping experience. Booze on the Common is not cool. Bring something for the 4:20 celebration and share it. Boston cops can be a pain in the ass, but the Park Rangers are cool, for the most part. Parking is available under the Common, entrance on Charles Street (one way). The flat rate for Saturday and Sunday is $18.00. The height limit is 6’, 3”. The garage fills up quickly after 10am.”
Make it down to the Boston Common the 17th + 18th and come together to vocalize with thousands that we want an end to marijuana prohibition and we want a yes from all on Question 4.
Growing pains: Oregon marijuana boom brings jobs — and complaints — for Josephine County
Grants Pass Daily Courier - By. Shaun Hall - 08/29/2016
GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Josephine County’s growing marijuana industry is experiencing growing pains.
The number of medical marijuana grow sites in the county has remained steady from a year ago, at about 2,500.
But growers who sell to retailers have been sprouting up — 38 new state-issued licenses have been granted this summer to people who plan to grow for the recreational market. More applications are pending.
Pivoting to take advantage of retailer preference for indoor-grown marijuana, these new operations are springing up in former pastures and fields across the county.
“This industry didn’t exist a year ago,” observed Dani Jurmann, standing outside a row of industrial-size greenhouses on Cedar Flat Road near Williams, where he and his family employ nearly 30 people growing marijuana for the recreational market. “The world has changed, and Oregon is at the forefront.”
There’s good and bad happening. The good includes jobs and investments. Jurmann pays employees $15 an hour to start, plus benefits. He employed contractors and suppliers to get the place up and running. He obtained land.
He also bought big greenhouse fans and framing lumber, and built a gravel road.
That’s where the bad comes in— some neighbors complain about noise from the fans, and the road had to be moved to avoid annoying a neighbor who complained about the new traffic.
Operating as Shadowbox Farms, Jurmann employs not only gardeners and trimmers, but a compliance officer and a foreman. The operation’s aim, besides providing 6 million servings of product a year, is to provide a living for his family and employees, in a career some might consider a dream job.
“We offer real jobs with a real future,” he said. “We’re supporting a lot of families here and that’s what’s important to us.”
It all comes with a price, of course. There’s the competition and the new neighbors, and a county planning department that has told him there’s a need for permits for those greenhouses.
In response, Jurmann has applied for the permits, said he’s willing to invest in new fans, and is planning to put up a line of closely packed trees to block sound and sight.
“We are working very hard to meet the needs of our neighbors,” says Jurmann’s wife, Angellina. “We are a mom and pop business. Our community reputation is really important to us.”
The fans are shut off by 8 p.m. nightly.
The whole operation is surrounded by an 8-foot-high chain-link fence. Dozens of cameras provide surveillance. A former stable has become an office, and there’s a room for young plants, in addition to a dozen or more new greenhouses topped with plastic and removable black covers, which give plants 12 hours of sunshine and 12 hours of shade. Every plant it tagged, so it can be tracked.
It’s a going concern and yet a work still in progress.
This week, the new road was put in. Last week, post holes had been dug for a new fence, outside Jurmann’s nearby home, where his four children are being raised. A couple dogs that looked anything but vicious lounged in the sun. The place bustled with workers.
“You couldn’t build something like this in six months without making a mess,” says Jurmann, a grower for the last decade who persuaded fellow family members to pool their money and give it a try.
He’s convinced his crop is superior to marijuana grown outdoors, where rain and wind and dust can take their toll, including how the product looks — an important consideration for retailers.
He predicts a glut of marijuana grown outdoors, which could cause prices for those products to drop, and affect the ability of outdoor growers to make a go of it.
“There’s only going to be the biggest and strongest that survive,” he said.
by Chance Seales
WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – While doctors can prescribe patients medical marijuana in 23 states, they legally cannot study how it affects their illnesses. But that could soon be changing.
Federal policy classifies marijuana – medical and recreational – as a Schedule I drug. That label means the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) treats weed as equal to heroin, ecstasy and LSD.
Paradoxically, drugs like cocaine and meth fall into lower, looser categories which do allow clinical research.
Here’s how the DEA describes marijuana:
“Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.“
But the movement to federally reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug, like cocaine, is picking up steam.
2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton broke news by publicly backing a federal reclassification, knocking marijuana down from Schedule I to Schedule II. It was the cautious candidate’s first time lending her voice to the cause.
With medical marijuana laws spreading, Clinton says reclassification is now a necessity, explaining, “Researchers at universities, at the National Institutes of Health, could start researching what’s the best way to use it, how much dose does somebody need, how does it interact with other medications.”
Other Democrats in the 2016 race are already comfortable in the marijuana overhaul camp.
Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has stopped short of supporting full pot legalization, but, like Clinton, endorsed a marijuana reclassification. The New York Timesreports that O’Malley told pro-pot advocates in September he would like to see more research, but said, “I’m not there yet,” when asked about wholly legalizing recreational marijuana.
The field’s far-left candidate is there on pot decriminalization.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who is running for the Democratic nomination for president, introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015, which would abolish the DEA’s blanket marijuana ban and allow “states to decide whether they want to legalize pot for recreational or medical use without federal intervention.”
The real regulatory problem is a chicken-and-egg issue according to Fernanda Alonso, a lawyer with Georgetown Law’s O’Neill Institute. Before green-lighting reclassification, Alonso explains, federal regulators want to see scientific evidence that marijuana is safe to study, but the wholesale Schedule I ban on marijuana prevents any body of research from being developed. The end result: no reliable research, no reclassification.
Here’s the cycle:
CDC requests review → FDA finds limited research → No reclassification
“We need scientific evidence to know whether actual benefits to medical marijuana, whether there are harms of using recreational marijuana,” explains Alonso. She continued, “In order to have this information, we need to reclassify it so we can have scientific and medical research.”
A handful of regulating entities overlap when it comes to drug classification jurisdiction, including: President, U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, Centers for Disease Control, Federal Drug Administration and Department of Justice.
In response to Clinton’s recent shift on reclassification, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest tempered public expectations for imminent change, telling media, “Our policy when it comes to marijuana hasn’t changed and I’m not aware of any policy process that’s underway to change it right now.”
Furthermore, Grassley places trust in the FDA’s current review of marijuana literature, despite previous inquiries yielding no classification adjustments in the past.
Grassley fears what will happen if the issue is knocked down to the state level, as proposed in previous legislation, saying, “You end up with 50 different policies on marijuana, and we thought that was a bad thing to do.”
Other conservative Judiciary Committee members disagree, preferring a state-based approach to medicinal — not recreational — marijuana.
Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia advocates for the elimination of broad federal regulations in favor of leaving medical marijuana laws to individual states, citing the Peach State’s medical marijuana program.
“I believe this is a states issue, and one that we need to stay away from on the federal level,” explains Perdue.
Until the FDA issues a new ruling on marijuana, Sen. Grassley says not to expect a bill to pass through his committee.
If a Democrat is elected president in 2016, a nationwide shift could quickly follow. But for the time being, patients in 23 states and the District of Columbia will continue to have access to state-authorized medical marijuana, while four states and D.C. allow recreational weed.